The Royals hit for the cycle in the first inning, using the four runs they scored in that frame to pick up a 5-3 win over Philadelphia and even the World Series at 2-2 on a Saturday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
Phillies starter Larry Christenson lasted just 22 pitches in the first inning. Willie Wilson led off with a single, then raced to third when Christenson tried a pickoff throw that bounced past first baseman Pete Rose and up the right field line. Frank White hit a fly ball into short right field, not deep enough to score Wilson, but George Brett drove in the run with a triple. Willie Aikens then pounded a pitch into the water spectacular in right field for a 3-0 lead. Consecutive doubles by Hal McRae and Amos Otis produced another run and brought reliever Dickie Noles into the game. Noles issued a walk and yielded an infield single, but was able to get Wilson to ground out to end the inning with the bases loaded.
The Phillies got one run back in the top of the second. With one out, Garry Maddox singled off Royals starter Dennis Leonard. Manny Trillo hit a potential double-play grounder to White, after the forceout at second, U L Washington’s relay throw skipped past Aikens and into the Royals’ dugout. That sent Trillo to second, and he scored on Larry Bowa’s single.
Aikens put the lead back at four runs when he homered with two outs and no one on in the bottom of the second, a no-doubter into the Royals’ bullpen. Leonard kept the Royals in front 5-1 into the seventh inning, with some help from a caught stealing in the third and a double play in the fourth. But Philadelphia, which had taken the first two games of the Series with comebacks, rallied in that seventh inning. With one out, Trillo doubled and Bowa singled. Bob Boone drilled one into the left-center field gap, but Wilson raced over from left field and made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track. Instead of a two-run double, the Phillies got just one run on the sacrifice fly, and Leonard got Lonnie Smith to ground out to end the inning.
Philadelphia drew one run closer in the eighth, as Rose led off with a double. Royals closer Dan Quisenberry took over, and although Rose came in to score on a grounder and a Mike Schmidt sacrifice fly, the Phillies could not get closer than 5-3. Philadelphia went down in order in the ninth on three straight ground balls.
Game Four was not without controversy. In the bottom of the fourth, Noles got ahead of Brett 0-2. The Royals, after winning Game Three and jumping out to the big lead in this one, had some momentum. Plus, Aikens had lingered at home plate admiring his home run in the second a little too long for Noles’ taste. So, with a chance to waste a pitch, Noles fired one up and in on Brett. Many years later, Noles would express regret that the pitch was high and inside, saying he did not intend to throw at his head. But the pitch set off the Royals’ dugout and a stadium full of fans, who booed long and loud. Royals manager Jim Frey wasted no time charging out of the dugout and screaming at Noles, alternately asking home plate umpire Don Denkinger to issue a warning. Rose and Frey also exchanged words. Ultimately, nothing much came of the matter; Leonard, working with a four-run lead, chose not to retaliate (and with the DH in use in this Series, Noles didn’t have to worry about stepping up to the plate). Later on, the Phillies would credit this incident with changing the momentum of the Series.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA198010180.shtml
Bonus YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQEuKMHIpCs. There’s actually a slightly higher-quality version on YouTube, but this one has the commercials. That’s more interesting to me. See Arnold Palmer sell oil! See James Garner sell Polaroids! See O.J. Simpson sell rental cars!
Today’s birthdays: Bobby Knoop (1938), Andy Hassler (1951), Terry Clark (1960), Carlos Maldonado (1966)